Ain't Mount Zion Great
October 30, 2016
Hebrews 12:18-24 ESV:  For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest  and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them.  For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.”  Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”  But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,  and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,  and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
The author has already given us two substantial motivations to encourage us to keep running with endurance. First, we have many beautiful examples of what the life of faith looks like. Secondly, we have the deep assurance that God is acting for our good in all things. Today he adds a third. To help us appreciate how fabulous we have it in Jesus, he contrasts our experience with some of those who had to look forward to Jesus’ arrival.
What we have not experienced…Mount Sinai.
· Obvious, physical manifestations of the holiness of God.
· The overwhelming, inevitable fear that accompanies being confronted with obvious expressions of God’s holiness.
· The unmistakable inability to approach the holy God.
What we experience…Mount Zion.
· Approach happily and fearlessly the immediate presence of the Almighty God.
Life Group Questions:
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
1. How would you summarize 12:12-17?
2. What does the “for” signify in v. 18?
3. Who is the “you” the author is referring to in v. 18?
4. What is the author referring to when saying “what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them”?
5. Who are “they” in v. 20 that the author is speaking about?
6. What does the “order that was given” refer to? Is this specific or general?
7. Why does the author specifically name Moses in the account?
8. Does it seem that the author characterizes Mount Sinai negatively? Explain.
9. What transition takes place through the author’s use of the word “but” in v22? What is the purpose of contrasting these two mountains?
10. Was the author communicating a literal or figurative coming to Mt. Zion?
11. Does the author want to communicate these ideas from 22-24 as a future experience or present reality?
12. Contrast the blood of Abel with the blood of Jesus. How does Abel’s blood speak? How is Jesus’ blood greater?
13. How would you paraphrase the big idea of 12:18-24?
HOW DOES IT APPLY?
1. What would you imagine to be the most fearful part of the Mt. Sinai experience? Did God intend those present to have a terrifying experience? Explain.
2. Though we cannot touch or hear God in the way the Israelites did, what can we experience? What was the author challenging the readers to understand and what are the implications for us?
3. Are you experiencing faith in the way this passage says that you can? Explain.
4. Is there something that keeps you from experiencing this description more fully? Refer back to one of the five experiences listed in v 12-17.
5. Of all the things listed in vs. 22-24 that we have “come to,” is there one that stands out to you? Is there one that you have difficulty understanding?
6. Do you feel like you are partying with the joyful assembly in heaven? How can you experience this more